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Centuries for both Gloucestershire openers saw Surrey’s hopes of forcing a win evaporate on day three of the LV= Insurance County Championship match at the Seat Unique Stadium, Bristol.

Rediscovering his best form when it was most needed, Chris Dent scored a superb double hundred and batted all day to frustrate First Division leaders Surrey and usher Gloucestershire towards safety on day three of this LV=Insurance County Championship match at Bristol’s Seat Unique Stadium.

Responding to Surrey’s imposing first-innings 603, Gloucestershire reached the close on 443/2, thanks in large part to Dent’s defiant knock of 207 not out, an innings spanning eight hours so far. The Bristolian shared a record-breaking opening stand of 296 with Marcus Harris, who made 124, and then staged an unbroken third-wicket alliance of 147 with Miles Hammond, his fellow left-hander finishing undefeated on 75.

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In the process, Dent passed the notable personal milestone of 10,000 first-class runs, and Gloucestershire attained maximum batting bonus points for the first time this season. They still trail by 160 and will need to summon further resistance on the final day, but any outcome other than a draw is now inconceivable.

It was a grinding day in the field for Surrey, who were unable to bank any bonus points. Jordan Clark and Colin de Grandhomme shared the two wickets to fall, with Clark’s delivery from round the wicket to the new batter James Bracey arguably the ball of the match so far.

Staring down the barrel of a third consecutive defeat when Surrey posted a mammoth 603, the hosts dug deep to defy their opponents, Dent and Harris batting for five hours to at least avert the threat of following on.

Theirs was a record-breaking stand, the highest for any Gloucestershire wicket in matches against Surrey, surpassing the 285 made by Bev Lyon and Wally Hammond in May 1928. They had already eclipsed the previous highest score for the first wicket in matches against Surrey, going past the 219 staged by Sadiq Mohammad and Andy Stovold at Bristol in 1975.

Dent was first to a hundred, reaching that landmark via 162 balls, cutting Will Jacks to third man for his 18th boundary. His 19th first-class hundred in all, it was his first since he posted 169 against Derbyshire at Derby in August 2019.

Harris went to his second century in successive home matches for Gloucestershire in some style, pulling Topley to the mid-wicket boundary shortly after lunch. The Australian eventually succumbed to temptation when flashing hard at a ball outside off stump from Colin de Grandhomme and being held by stand-in wicketkeeper Josh Blake, who had been called up overnight to replace Jamie Smith.

Prevented from deploying Sam Curran as a bowler by a direct edict from the England management, Surrey were deprived of a potentially key option and, not surprisingly, their overworked seamers began to tire in the final session. Dent and Hammond made the most of the situation, keeping the scoreboard ticking over to tap Surrey resolve and edge their side ever nearer to safety.

Dent went to 200 from 375 balls, cutting Jacks for his 27th four to become the first Gloucestershire player to score a double against Surrey since Zaheer Abbas achieved the feat way back in 1976.